Nurse cultural awareness and competency depends on where one will work than where they trained

As far as nurse awareness and cultural competency is concerned so much depends on where one will work not and less on where they trained; or who they trained as.

This controversy was driven partly by a recent perspective as shared in a popular nurses social media wall.  It went as captured in the screenshot below:

(Courtesy of the caption developers. Disclaimer post on social media meant for public consumption)


‘…You wonder what school they attended’, the nurse could not identify vernix caseosa on the skin of a newborn. Below was my rejoinder:

Be careful never pride where in where you went to nursing school, actually many a listeners won’t care. The patient won’t either. The 21st century you cannot live on lost glory. The days when one had to know everything are  but gone. Today onward it’s about learning to unlearn, unlearning to learn but more importantly the ability to search for information and evidence to refer and apply.

Therefore, spanking a newbie for not knowing is itself a backward attitude, especially when it’s an us versus them approach… You see I went to this and that school so I know better and I they don’t.

Whether or not it was vernix caseosa or by another name the big thing we should be telling people is what is this new evidence concerning it and how is it likely to help us improve on the outcomes. Just knowing the name is not enough.

On the other hand beliefs and myths have their place in medicine and African beliefs do not change overnight. Infact those beliefs concerning vernix caseosa are unlikely to change that soon among different communities in Kenya. Culture is made up largely of myths and beliefs, add practices and the whole definition almost fits in.. and if you can change that maybe one African at a time, but a good number these could have fallen off with the turn of the millennium, but they persisted, why?
I somehow borrow on transcultural theory of nursing.since one can never. A patient does not come to hospital minus what they belief, they will come inspite of it. Even if you do not subscribe to them, respect them. We can only try to debunk them where possible possible. NCLEX recognizes cultural awareness aspects of nursing and one has to pass that too.
I happen to have done my MSN at Colorado just around where the red Indians have their homes. You say that myths and beliefs do not have their place in medicine or nursing for that matter, I do not get it either,

So when my Kyuk mother sprinkles some drops of breast milk on the prepuce of a newborn baby as she feeds him I am supposed to tell her she is ‘dirty’. When a lady from western Kenya insists that she wants the placenta to go and bury it she is ‘dirty’. These are the colonial education mentality, that is what they want us to believe that our culture is ‘dirty’.

That when a lady from northern Kenya uses the white part of the lizard’s feacal to dry up the umbilical stump she is ‘dirty’. That going to nursing school means you must debunk every belief and myth our Africans have and prove to them that you know everything. There are the adverse one yes which we must dissuade them but respectively.

Today, soft skills, emotional intelligence will get one further than just where you schooled. Indeed, we need not even say it that much unless it’s meant for an alumni bash. Let’s support each other and mentor the newbies’.

The following were the very worthy rejoinders to the above (my) reply:

Post One
I disagree with you totally. We put a lot of effort to encourage expectant mothers to go to health facilities for delivery because we expect that the delivery will be conducted by a skilled attendant. If the one who is supposed to be a skilled attendant is helping to perpetuate myths that are practised by traditional birth attendants at home why should the mother waste her time and money to come to the health facility? Midwifery is a science, and science and myths don’t mix. It is not true that the days of having to know everything are long gone:that is a lie. A midwife must understand everything in his/her scope of practice.The nursing council spells out the standards for the practice of midwifery. Myths and misconceptiobs are not allowed in midwifery.

Post Two

u r lost review your nursing even the NCLEX u r talking about does not support myths such as vernix caseosa is dirt ………it supports religion and few practices like foods but if for one reason or the other some prescription about food is made to restrict u explain to a client why this or that is wrong…….u have to av the facts in medicine not just practicing………. obtain consent u don’t fight with clients BT tell them the right thing…….if u support them or wrong things then there was no need u going to school of nursing 31/2 yrs.

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